Just like against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco, the seven-time Dubai champion Roger Federer had to work hard against the raising Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, scoring a 7-6, 6-4 win to reach the quarter-final for the first time in four years.
Marton fought well against Roger at the Australian Open last year and he certainly had his chances today, winning just two points less than Roger and giving his best against the 20-time Grand Slam champion. Roger would have been in even bigger problems had Marton found the first serve on a more regular basis, landing only 49% of the first serve in and saving five out of seven break points to stay in contention until the very last moment.
Roger saved two out of three break points and he had to work hard to oust the rival who will be on a career-high ranking on Monday, with both players hitting 19 winners and the Swiss who sprayed more unforced errors, unable to impose his shots and move the rival from the comfort zone.
The rhythm of the match was interrupted a few times by rain and it was a tough day at the office for both players, with the more experienced out of the two prevailing to secure his 51st Dubai win and stay on the course for the ATP title number 100!
Federer had to save a break point already in the first game of the match, blasting a service winner to avoid an early setback and erasing the only chance for the returners in the opening set before the tie break. The Hungarian opened a 6-4 lead in the breaker although it wasn't to be for him, losing the next four points to send Roger ahead in just under an hour.
Carried by this momentum, the Swiss secured a break at the start of the second set when Fucsovics sprayed a forehand error, losing the advantage in the fourth game when his forehand found the net. The Hungarian created another break point in the eighth game, denied by Roger who was all over his opponent in the following game that turned out to be by far the longest of the match.
After a rain delay and all kind of drama, Marton fell on the fifth break point when his forehand landed long and Federer held after a deuce in game ten to book the place in the last eight with a service winner, facing Borna Coric or Nikoloz Basilashvili in Friday's semi-final.